Lufthansa SquareMeal promotion travelFew cities on earth can rival Mumbai’s vitality. All urban life is on display: from joyously cacophonous street markets, to sleek shopping malls, via sky-high bars, spectacular architecture and world-renowned street food. Here’s how to whizz round in 48 hours.

Words: Maunika Gowardhan

Mumbai Lufthansa SquareMeal travel promotion

Getting there

Lufthansa flies to Mumbai 14 times weekly via Frankfurt and Munich, using its brand new A350-900 aircraft on the Munich route. Flight time is about 11 hours 10 minutes. Economy-class return fares, including taxes and fees, start at £469 return. LH.com 

When to go

The weather is best from October to March (the monsoon season runs from June to September). Around Diwali (19 October in 2017) the entire city is illuminated in lights.

Where to stay

A sleek, modern high-rise hotel, Mumbai’s Four Seasons offers 202 rooms and luxury aplenty: from an outdoor pool and 34th-floor rooftop bar, to a brace of alluring restaurants (serving pan-Asian, European and Indian cuisine). Spectacular views of the Arabian Sea and the sparkling night-time cityscape are a highlight, and all rooms have complimentary Wi-Fi. Double room from £96. fourseasons.com 

Mumbai Lufthansa SquareMeal travel promotion

Day 1

6am Start early to get a glimpse of the local fishing community at Sassoon Docks (above). Built in 1875, the city’s oldest docks now accommodate this exuberant daily fish market run by the Sassoon community (former cotton traders who moved into fishing after the cotton industry’s decline). The invigorating noise, colour, aromas, bustle and flipping fresh sea life beat any wake-up call. Sassoon Docks, Colaba Causeway, Azad Nagar, Colaba, Mumbai

8am Freshly cooked south Indian food makes an excellent start to the day, and this original branch of Shiv Sagar, a vegetarian fast-food outfit, provides the wherewithal. Accompany your filter coffee with a delicious flaky butter dosa and its essential accompaniments: light soupy sambar (a veg and lentil stew) and coconut chutney. Uttapams, idlis and pongals are further enticements. Dishes from £2. shivsagarrestaurant.com 

10.30am Head to Colaba Causeway for a spot of shopping. This famous retail district covers the entire spectrum of options: from colourful street stalls selling bargain jewellery, funky clothing and shoes, via mid-range fashion outlets to exclusive designer boutiques housed in stunning buildings dating from the British Raj. Don’t miss the exquisite saris and salwar kameez suits at Rosewood Boutique. indiamart.com/rose-wood-boutique 

12.30pm A morning’s shopping builds an appetite for a hearty lunch, and Apoorva at Kala Ghoda specialises in the diverse non-vegetarian cuisine of Mangalore (the main port city of Karnataka in southern India). It’s just the place for masala dosa, prawn gassi, sol kadi (a coconut-based drink) and bombil fry (deep-fried lizard fish, sometimes called Bombay duck). Dishes from £4. Apoorva, CST, KP Shethi Building, Syed Abdullah Brelvi Marg, Kala Ghoda, Fort, Mumbai

Mumbai Lufthansa SquareMeal travel promotion

2pm Time to follow a tourist route, strolling down the Strand promenade all the way to the Gateway of India (above), Mumbai’s most iconic monument. The structure was built to commemorate the landing of King George V and Queen Mary when they visited India in 1911 and is sited opposite the luxurious and almost equally renowned Taj Mahal Palace Hotel (built 1903). Apollo Bandar, Colaba, Mumbai

7.30pm Unmissable for foodies, Bombay Canteen celebrates the diversity of Indian cuisine. Familiar dishes using local produce are often given internationally inspired tweaks, so expect the likes of pumpkin seekh kebabs or tandoori pork ribs. Our favourites? Milk-braised raan (leg of lamb) with yakhni pilau, followed by gulab nut (gulab jamun soaked with rum and filled with pistachio cream). Dishes from £7. thebombaycanteen.com 

11pm Drinks at the rooftop AER bar of the Four Seasons Hotel (below) are always a good idea. Champagne is available by the glass, the cocktails are among the best in the city, and it’s also worth trying the bar snacks. A resident DJ plays upbeat jazz and funk nightly and the stunning views of Mumbai at dusk provide a scintillating backdrop. fourseasons.com 

Mumbai Lufthansa SquareMeal travel promotion

Day 2

7am Order chai (tea) and brun maska to begin the day at Yazdani Bakery. No-one can resist the smell of freshly baked bread slathered with plenty of butter. The bakery is also among the best places in Mumbai to stock up on classic Shrewsbury biscuits. The lemony shortbread biscuits, originally from Shropshire, are a big hit in India. Snacks from £2. Yazdani Bakery, 11/11A, Horniman Circle, Kala Ghoda, Fort, Mumbai

Mumbai Lufthansa SquareMeal travel promotion

8am Take the fast train from the spectacular CST (Victoria Terminus Station) to Dadar wholesale flower market (above). This indoor market bursts into life early in the morning, displaying rows of marigolds, beautiful mogra and a dizzying variety of other flora. Visit during Diwali (around 19 October in 2017) and you’ll see rows of flower garlands constructed from mango leaves and rice stalks. Dadar Flower Market, 302, Senapati Bapat Marg, Dadar West, Mumbai

12pm Art and theatre form a significant part of Mumbai’s cultural life and no trip to the city is complete without a visit to the atmospheric Prithvi Theatre. Owned by the first family of Bollywood, the Kapoors, the theatre attracts both young budding actors and established names in the performing arts, showcasing new and old plays along with first-rate musical productions. prithvitheatre.org 

Mumbai Lufthansa SquareMeal travel promotion

2pm Mumbai is rightfully famous for street food, so a pit-stop at Lashkara By Punjab Sweet House (above) in Bandra is a must. The chaats (snacks) are mouthwatering, including sev puri, pani puri and bhel puri. A glass of falooda (a knickerbocker glory-like concoction containing ice cream and vermicelli) or some Indian sweets will round off a meal perfectly. Dishes from £2. punjabsweethouse.net

6pm A walk along Chowpatty Beach (below) at dusk has long been a ritual for Mumbai locals, relishing the cooler evening temperatures after the daytime heat. Part of the attraction is people-watching – viewing your fellow strollers, rather as happens in the paseos of Spanish cities – but taking a look at the plentiful food stalls along the beach is excellent for honing the appetite. Chowpatty Beach, Marine Drive, Mumbai

Mumbai Lufthansa SquareMeal travel promotion

8pm For an authentic Gujarati meal head to Swati Snacks in Tardeo. This is the original branch of the mini chain and was established in 1963. The mostly Gujarati (vegetarian) dishes run the gamut from crispy snacks to khichdi (cracked wheat pilau). Try the panki (a rice pancake topped with ghee and served with delicious fresh coriander chutney). Dishes from £3. swatisnacks.com 

11pm Late-night coffee and cookies at the Lobby Lounge of the Leela Palace Hotel (below) on your way to the airport is a treat not to be missed. The sea-salt caramel chocolate chip cookies served warm are utterly divine, and will provide a fittingly sweet finale to round off your visit to this fabulous city. Coffee and cakes from £5. theleela.com 

Mumbai Lufthansa SquareMeal travel promotion

Lufthansa cabin crew tips to Mumbai

Snehal Gaikwad Flight attendant

Breakfast

Café Madras

Food is authentic south Indian-style and very tasty. Try the Mysore sada dosa and the rasam vada. No. 38-B, Ground Floor, Kamakshi Building, Bhaudaji Road, Kings Circle, Matunga, Mumbai

Lunch

Mahesh Lunch Home

A renowned Mumbai dining venue known for its seafood specialities. Crab in various styles, pomfret fry and neer dosa followed by a refreshing drink of coconutty sol kadhi makes for lunchtime nirvana. A little pricey but totally worth it! maheshlunchhome.com 

Dinner

Shalimar

A long-established haven for north Indian Moghul cuisine that’s a perfect place for a quiet get-together with family and friends. Launch into a butter chicken with butter naan, though don’t ignore the kebab platters or mutton birianis. Finger-licking desserts, too. shalimarmumbai.com 

For more information on Mumbai, visit india.com/travel/mumbai/ 

This article was published 11 July 2017